Go Kart Driving in Dessert

Image via Flickr by thart2009

In the state of California, Dune buggies are classified as recreational off-highway vehicles. ROVs have four wheels, a steering wheel, and rollover protection. When you are using your dune buggy on lands that are open and accessible to the public, whether public or privately owned, you need either a highway license or an OHV sticker. OHV stickers include "Green Stickers," "Red Stickers," and California Nonresident OHV Use Permits. Dune buggies require a Green Sticker to be affixed to the vehicle. Place the Green Stickers to sand rails, dune buggies, and carts on the left quadrant of the metal frame so that it is clearly visible from the rear. You can contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles office to purchase your Green Sticker. 


Helmet Laws

California has particular laws regarding helmets when off-roading in dune buggies. In January 2013, this law was changed to enforce, regardless of their age, that people riding in a dune buggy must wear an approved safety helmet that meets California safety standards. This applies to both the driver and the passengers. 

Seatbelt Laws

A person operating a dune buggy and any passenger in the vehicle must wear a seatbelt and shoulder belt or safety harness that is properly fastened when the vehicle is in motion.

Children's car seats (child passenger restraint systems) aren't dealt with under this law, and so they are not specifically prohibited; however, caution is always advised.

Additional seats may be added to your dune buggy, depending on the model year of the vehicle. The process of adding seats to areas not provided by the manufacturer in 2013 and earlier model years is allowed if everyone is inside the vehicle's rollover protection. From 2014 onwards, no changes for seating are allowed.

Occupant Handhold Requirements

When an installed handhold has come loose on the buggy and is no longer effective or missing, you must install a new one on the vehicle as a compulsory safety feature. The handhold's function is to keep the passengers' hands within the vehicle at all times. The roll cage can't be a substitute for that function, as it's too dangerous. The seat cushion also can't replace the handhold for the same reason. 

Children Operating Dune Buggies

Children can operate a dune buggy in the following circumstances. The law states that "a person operating a recreational off-highway vehicle shall be at least 16 years of age, or be directly supervised in the vehicle by a parent or guardian or by an adult authorized by the parent or guardian." Once again, caution is to be strongly advised. Anyone who operates a dune buggy must be able to properly reach and operate the controls. Parents are legally responsible for making sure that these requirements are adhered to.

Legal Operation of Your Dune Buggy

Your speed must be sensible for the situation to avoid danger. You can't drive faster than 15 miles per hour within 50 feet of campsites, animals, or groups of people.

Dune buggies must be safely loaded.

You must always obey official signs and regulations. Make sure that you know the current laws and any special restrictions for the area where you plan to ride.

Towing a passenger may be deemed dangerous unless the towed passenger is in a vehicle that's designed to carry passengers. You can be arrested for DUI when driving your OHV off-highway. The laws about driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs pertain in California, both on and off-highway, and open alcoholic beverage containers in dune buggies are prohibited.  There are many more legalities to consider when operating your dune buggies, and it is best to get to know them well. When used responsibly, dune buggies add loads of excitement and adventure to your social and family life.

Recreational dune buggies are made in various designs, and whether they are tube-framed or fiberglass, they are strong, lightweight and lots of fun. Be sure you're following all of California's laws about their safe operation, however, to keep everyone safe and happy for many more rides to come.

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